Skip to main content

Full text of "History And Human Relation"

See other formats


areas of historical reconstruction and historical thinking
which have not yet been brought under the same
scientific control, though the history of historiography
may enable us to make further advances even here.

^The situation is more serious than anything that has
so far been stated, however; for I think it is true to say
that in the European politics of the last two centuries
certain errors are discoverable which were born out of
historical reflection as such—errors which would not
have been made if people had not been so interested in
the past and so concerned with it. The influence of
historical study in the nineteenth century led to the
creation of what we can only regard as new kinds of
myths—things which came with the mysterious halo of
religion about them and were almost made to serve as
substitutes for religion. Amongst these I should put
the myth of romantic nationalism, the modem religion
of exaggerated nationalism, which is a perversion of such
principle of nationality as had existed hitherto. That
myth had historians as its high priests while its prophets
were a particular type of student of the past who en-
quired into the history of languages and interested
themselves in early folk-literature. Moreover, ideas
which are introduced into historical scholarship at a
high level soon become degraded into myths., Instead
of being developed in a flexible manner with the passage
of time, they are repeated with rigidity, dragged into
different contexts, tossed to and fro in the market-place
and generally hardened and coarsened in the rough-and-
tumble of the world's affairs. Historical memories,
especially in Eastern Europe—and also in Ireland—have